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Minutes of the 369th meeting held at 10.00 in Stokesley Town Hall on Tuesday 16th October 2018:

Speaker Keith Burton: ‘Lest We Forget’ Keith Burton, the Club’s Speakerfinder since 2017, read history for his first degree and later studied at Durham University and gained an MA. He taught history in Middlesbrough. He is a member of the Stokesley Society, the Stokesley Heritage Society and Stokesley U3A.

He gave a very interesting if sombre talk remembering the roles of local people in World War 1. Keith started by acknowledging the contribution to the research made by his wife Val. He said that the talk was truly a joint effort. He said that on the 4th September 1914, many Stokesley men were training with the 4th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment. They were suddenly recalled and ordered to report to Northallerton the following day. They were given a list of items to take with them, the maximum weight of which was 12lb. The Battalion was a Home Defence Corps, but this role was quickly abandoned because of emergency recruitment ordered on the outbreak of war. The British Expeditionary Force had been sent to the continent in August 1914. They held the Germans up at Mons, but before the end of the month the Allies were in retreat. The Bull and Dog became the Stokesley recruitment office and volunteers flooded in following Kitchener’s poster campaign - ‘Your Country Needs You’ seeking 100,000 volunteers. Many were refused entry into the army, because they were under age. Keith talked about many of the local men who died. Some were well known and others of whom it has been difficult to find any details. In 1914, 2 men died followed by 7 in 1915. At the Battle of the Somme, 3 men fell in the first hours. A total of 14 died in 1916, 17 fell in 1917 and a further 17 in 1918. 5 men are buried in the Ladycross Cemetery, but only 4 have military headstones. Another 50 were buried in foreign fields, mostly in unmarked graves. The Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval in Northern France has about 72,000 names. The plaque in Stokesley Parish Church was unveiled in December 1920, with a section added after World War 2. The War Memorial on West Green was unveiled on October 6 1921. Stokesley Manor was turned over to the Government as a Red Cross hospital. This was funded by charities and supported by local shopkeepers and residents. The women of the town looked after the patients. Sister Rachel Crosby Grainger, who was the only qualified nurse, supervised the other nursing staff at the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital. Over 800 patients were successfully treated and many returned to the conflict. Keith showed a picture of the Manor House staff taken during the War. The end of the War saw many changes in the town. Keith asked rhetorically whether the new Stokesley was Fit for Heroes. 19th July 2019 saw the end of 1000 years of the Lord of the Manor, when the Manor House was given to the Parish Council. The town received its water supply in the 1920s and connection to mains sewerage in the 1930s. Many of the wounded returned home and worked in the town. A Book of Remembrance commemorating every fallen man was presented to the Parish Church on Remembrance Day 1926. A picture of the Remembrance Day Parade in 1927, showed no spectators. Everybody in the community joined the march. However, the significance of Remembrance Day began to fade as time passed. In 1970, no service was held at West Green. This has since been reinstated, and Keith showed a photograph taken in 2014 of a wheelchair-bound Allan Richmond, the last direct descendant of one of the Stokesley fallen in WW1. He asked ‘What will happen in future and Who will Remember?’ Alwyn Boulby thanked Keith and Val for their extraordinary research. He appealed for support at the Remembrance Day service. He had Memorial Poppies available to buy. 54 names will be read out at the Service.